Don S. Shoemaker: A Craftsman’s Legacy

1 Comment

Don passed away in May 1990. He left us an unrivaled aesthetic legacy through his remarkable furniture designs, now becoming modern classics sought after by collectors, galleries, auction houses and individuals worldwide. Apparently the intrinsic value of the woods used in the production (some of them now extinct) is something that they are starting to realize and evidently is sparking the boom of this search not to mention the value of the design, production and hand-craftsmanship compared to prices that have reached pieces from novel designers of stack-laminated wood, sold in $ 7,000 USD for a centerpiece making Don´s production of solid wood so attractive to them.

His furniture designs from the 1960’s and 1970’s are becoming important examples of 20th century design. He developed his own identity and style which remained evolving throughout his whole career maintaining the principles of high quality hand-craftsmanship and the intensive use of solid native precious woods. Don´s work has been included in many national and international art and design exhibitions held at renowned galleries and museums like the Museo de Arte Moderno (MAM) in Mexico City.

During his more than three decades of dedicated work Don designed a significant number of iconic furniture masterpieces, all produced in exotic hardwoods, which he favored for their inherent strength, durability and magnificent beauty:

  • Organic designs: the most unique “Scissor” Sling chair (an armchair with folding braces), his Sling “Sloucher” and “Swinger” chairs.
  • Progressive designs: the famous stack-laminated “Diamond” desk and table
  • Rectilinear designs: the “Parsons Line” including suites for every room in your house
  • Unmatchable coffee table designs: the “Cuerno”, “Sling”, “Elephant” Lounge and “Descanso” coffee tables.
  • Dining room set designs: the “Sling” dining room set, cabinets and sideboards
  • Lounge and living room designs: the “Descanso” set and “Pernos” Lounge set

Copyright © 2010 – 2017 Karin Goyer. All Rights Reserved.

Another decade goes by…

No Comments

The 1940’s:

  • Don´s adventure in Mexico started in 1947 in San Miguel Allende.

The 1950’s:

  • In 1951 Don and Barbara settled in Santa Maria de Guido, Morelia.
  • By 1955 the Shoemakers fled to the U.S. overnight. Their business became a cooperative and soon went broke.

The 1960’s:

  • The Shoemakers are back in Santa Maria de Guido, Michoacan.
  • Production started for several SEÑAL, S.A. furniture lines.
  • Don keeps developing new furniture designs.

The 1970’s:

  • They had to face devaluation and inflation.
  • The Puerto Vallarta store was opened and survived only a few months.
  • The “Diamond” desk becomes a “must have”.

The 1980´s:

  • Don searched for new markets and opened showrooms in several cities in the U.S. and exported to different countries in the world.
  • Don had to face constant devaluation and inflation.
  • Consolidation of the “Sling” and “Descanso” lines, the “Executive” and “Diamond” lines, the “Parsons” and “Perlman” lines, “Deco” line, etc.
  • Unfortunately Don passes away at the end of the decade.

The 1990´s:

  • Don´s heir, George, takes over. The company SEÑAL, S.A. is dissolved. George formed a new company with the name ARRENDADORA SHOEMAKER.
  • In 1995 George has to stand another blow, courtesy of the Mexican economy.
  • George develops new designs and improves some of Don´s furniture lines.

The 2000’s:

  • George´s health is declining extremely fast. Production activity goes to almost zero.
  • George passes away and the company has to close.
  • The most underwhelming attributions to Don S. Shoemaker started flooding the market.
  • The most outrageous examples are the ones shown at Miami Design 2009.
  • In 2010 the website about Don S. Shoemaker was created to provide information to the public and to create awareness of the huge amount of attributions, copies, forgeries and fakes offered in flea markets, auction houses, galleries and the web, some of them featured in specialized magazines.
  • At the end of the day, of the year, the decade and the century, the work of the Shoemaker´s will endure and will be enjoyed and remembered by the owners of these remarkable furniture pieces.

P.S.:  The  2010´s:

  • Soon the book about Don S. Shoemaker, his work  and his furniture designs will be published to provide required information to the “Shoemakeristis” and keep fighting piracy, also to prevent further most underwhelming attributions.
  • Most important: to honor a person who arrived to an impoverished neighborhood and thanks to his vision, drive and endurance brought well being to the village of Santa Maria de Guido in Morelia, Michoacan.

Copyright © 2010 – 2017 Karin Goyer. All rights Reserved

Don S. Shoemaker Biography

No Comments

Coming from an affluent family, Don was originally from Nebraska. During the 1930´s he studied at the Fine Arts Institute of Chicago thinking to become a painter. After the end of WWII, he married Barbara and felt in love with Mexico on his honeymoon, he finally decided to move to that country in the late 1940´s. He lived for a while and painted in San Miguel Allende, Guanajuato, but finally he settled down in a little uphill town called Santa Maria de Guido, overseeing the city of Morelia, in the state of Michoacán, Mexico.

Don and Barbara´s love for nature inspired them to install a greenhouse and collected more than 5,000 orchid specimens. Here in Santa Maria de Guido, Don began the manufacture of his furniture in tropical precious woods and other wood products. What started as a little factory in the late 1950´s called SEÑAL, S.A., grew to the point where Don employed more than a hundred skilled craftsmen. Soon Shoemaker became an important milestone of the economic and cultural life of his adopted home. SEÑAL, S.A. brought great wealth and economical boost to the village and Don was well known for his good heart and charity projects.

Don S. Shoemaker delivered furniture pieces to his showrooms in Chicago, Los Angeles, Houston and large cities in Mexico. His designs were very much appreciated by wealthy Mexican families which had complete sets decorating their haciendas and luxury homes.

Due to the expensive manufacturing costs on his tropical woods design pieces, his company, SEÑAL, S.A. profited from the installed equipment to produce a commercial line of colonial style furniture in pine and white cedar for hotels and government offices, etc. The legend says, that his factory used to work 24 hours a day.

During his marriage to Barbara Don had three children, but his son, George, was the only one involved in the business. When Don passed away in May of 1990, George took over and started reproducing Don´s designs under the label of “Arrendadora Shoemaker”. Unfortunately, George was called by God in the early 2000´s and the company disappeared.

Copyright © 2010-2017 Karin Goyer. All Rights Reserved